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Opinion: Voter Registration Path to Better Future

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

In 1920, eight days after it was ratified, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect -- giving women the right to vote. In 2016 general elections, a higher percentage of woman who were eligible (55 percent) voted than men who were eligible to vote (51.8 percent).

Sadly, that means close to have of all eligible Americans who were eligible to vote did not. And this does not include the 21.7 percent of American citizens who are not registered to vote. Why millions stay home and millions more don't even register is a commentary on our system.

Only 55 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote in 2018, giving the U.S. one of the lowest voter turnouts in the West (we rank 26th).

Two things could be done to help jump start this problem.

First, make the right to vote part of citizenship. No registration, simply a verified birth certificate or verified paperwork that a person has become a naturalized citizen. Until that could be put into place, have a citizenship verification when getting a drivers license. Many DMVs already have the paperwork to register to vote, so why duplicate. You want the privilege to drive in this country, then you should be added to the voter rolls.

Second, until the measures above are in place and successful, put more effort in encouraging voter registration. Online voting registration is available, but few seem to know it. More than a few high schools don't offer reminders to their graduating seniors that voting is one of the responsibilities of citizenship while providing information on how and were to register.

Voter registration booths at public events, and more are popping up locally, are also a good start. This is not a partisan issue, but one both parties should take seriously.

Voting matters. Choices we make at the polls matter. Elections are not simply about who we send to Washington or elect as president. Our local and state governments — governor, mayor, city council members, or your state senators and representatives, school board members — all can have a profound impact on the community. The decisions these elected officials make can quickly influence our daily lives.

This year, several of the county's municipalities are holding elections. The City of Belton will choose a mayor, and Council Wards 2,4,6; The Town of Pelzer will choose two town Council members; The Town of Honea Path will select a Mayor, and members of Council Wards 2,4,6; The Town of West Pelzer will vote for Mayor and Council (2 seats); and The Town of Pendleton will vote for Council Wards 2,4.

If you live in one of these towns and are not registered to vote in the Nov. 5 elections, you have until Oct. 5 to sign up.

Help is always available if you have questions. Anderson Office of Voter Registration and Elections have been recognized as on of the best in the state, and the staff there is top-notch. You can visit their website here, or call them at 864-260-4035. You can also drop by their office at 301 North Main Street for information or assistance.

You can also register online here. also offers every voter information on the precinct they are to vote and what candidates, or other items which are on their ballot (a sample ballot is provided).

In Anderson County 130,872 of roughly 168,000 eligible citizens are register to vote, and that's good. But it also reflects that nearly on-fourth of those who could vote are not even registered.

Whether you wear a hat with an elephant or one with a donkey, this year is a good time to encourage friends and family to vote. If you aren't in one of the municipalities holding November elections this year, you have plenty of time to register and become informed on the process allowing you to vote for those candidates who best reflect you values.

As one who votes in every election, I've earned the right to evaluate, encourage, criticize and opine about the people who are running our community, schools, state and country.

And while I appreciate the challenge put forth to help us all return to civil discourse in this country, and I understand the Constitution's guaranteed right to free speech, if you are not going to even register to vote, I'm inclined to think you should just shut up.

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